Seven past deals worsened today’s crime, traffic, health

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Seven messy projects of the past admin worsen today’s crime, traffic, and disease. Worth multibillions, the deals cripple police work, city commuting, and public health. Quality of life deteriorates.

Three executive departments must fix the mess and save state funds. Punishments also are needed to prevent recurrence.

All seven are hot news:

• P1.9-billion purchase of flimsy police vans. The Senate is to look into a 2015 bid rigging for over 2,000 units from an inapt Indian supplier. Rules were for bidders with at least ten years’ domestic presence. But the National Police bought the Mahindra brand – no dealer network, after-sales service, and spare parts. The vehicles have since broken down, rotting in disrepair in police stations. Police mobility and response to distress calls are disabled. Sen. Grace Poe’s warnings in late 2014 against the Mahindra purchase were unheeded.

• P1.4-billion missing police combat and patrol gear. State auditors have red-flagged the non-delivery of simple ponchos and commando rifle grenades ordered in 2015. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, one-time PNP chief, laments the repetitive anomalies. The purchases were made when then-interior secretary Mar Roxas and PNP head Alan Purisima were feuding. The present Dept. of Interior has yet to sue the erring police brass and suppliers to recover the money.

• P3.8-billion bungled fabrication of land vehicle license plates. For three years now millions of new cars, trucks, and motorcycles have been plate-less. Many old plates also have been lost, torn, or cloned. Lawmen have no way to identify crime getaways; traffic aides cannot enforce number coding. All because, in 2013, the Dept. of Transport contracted a blacklisted Filipino and undercapitalized Dutch partners for the five-year project. Aside from bid rigging, there was no congressional funding, so the Commission on Audit forbade payment. Prototypes were not tamper-proof as required; the metal crumpled like paper in floodwaters. Import duties unpaid, 600,000 pieces lie abandoned in cargo containers at the Manila pier. The present Land Transportation Office had to rebid and acquire platemaking machines. It started distributing 250,000 new plates this week, but only for vehicles bought July 2016 onwards. Government has yet to recover advances and damages, and indict the culprits.

• P3.8-billion purchase of flawed MRT-3 trains from China. Paid P565 million (15 percent) upon indent in 2013, Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Co. delivered late 48 faulty coaches in 2016. Incompatible length, overweight (by 3.3 tons each), and bogey design make operation and maintenance iffy. At least 15 safety and reliability tests, involving 94 components, were left undone. Confirming the contract breaches, present Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade says he will make Dalian redo the railcars. Their inoperability sets back MRT-3’s expansion. Traffic has intensified along EDSA and, by consequence, the whole Mega Manila. Had Dalian’s trains met the specs, the commuter rail would have upgraded to four-car trains from the present three-, shortened train intervals to 2.5 minutes from the old five, and increased ride frequency. Uninvestigated are allegations by ex-MRT general manager Al Vitangcol of a five-percent or P190-million kickback to transport bosses in 2013.

• P3.8-billion – the favorite deal price? – inept MRT-3 upkeep and overhaul. DOTr rescinded last Nov. the negotiated three-year contract, 2016-2019. By then, frequent breakdowns had worsened traffic; train dilapidation now requires years-long rehab. The cost is huge. Japanese giant Sumitomo Corp., as MRT-3’s 12-year maintainer, originally had estimated P7.5 billion ($150 million). DOTr is borrowing more than double, P17 billion (¥34.48 billion) from Japan International Cooperation Agency. Only last month did the Ombudsman indict ex-transport chief Joseph Abaya for graft. Implicated were ex-deputies Rene Limcaoco, Catherine Gonzales, Edwin Lopez, and Roman Buenafe. Also, DOTr managers Camille Alcaraz, Ofelia Astrera, Charissa Opulencia, Oscar Bongon, and Joe Sabayles. And Busan Universal Rail Inc. incorporators-directors Eldonn Ferdinand Uy, Belinda Ong Tan, Elizabeth C. Velasco, Brian C. Velasco, Antonio Borromeo, Elpidio Uy, and Jun Ho Hwang.


• P3.5-billion untested anti-dengue vaccine. About 835,000 nine-to-12-year-olds were injected with untried Dengvaxia once to thrice from Apr. 2016 to Aug. 2017. Vaccinees were not blood-tested or queried for previous dengue infection. Parents’ consents were not sought; side effects unexplained. Malacañang rushed the project for the May 2016 election, in vote-rich Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, and Central Visayas. It turned out that the inoculant can cause severe bleeding, fever, and death to previously uninfected vaccinees and those with congenital ailments. Sixty-five deaths have been linked to the drug, and 30 times that number of hospitalizations. Sacrificed were a dozen tried-and-tested necessary vaccines, including for mumps, measles, chicken pox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis. Public hysteria over Dengvaxia is scaring parents and youths even from safe vaccines.

• P8.1-billion infeasible construction of 5,700 barangay health stations in public schools. Malacañang allegedly rushed the release of the amount in Dec. 2015, along with the Dengvaxia deal. The money went to waste. Sites were unworkable and constructors ineligible. Delays were interminable; equipment were undelivered. Primary health care for the poor and hiring of barangay nurses never happened. Ex-President Noynoy Aquino, budget secretary Florencio Abad, and health secretary Janet Garin deny any wrongdoing.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website https://beta.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

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